Top 100 Players of 2019, Nos. 51-60: Calais Campbell drops

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  • By Logan Reardon NFL.com
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It's that time of year again, when NFL players cast their votes to identify the best in the league heading into the 2019 NFL season. From July 22 through the 31st, NFL Media will reveal a new set of 10 names daily from the "Top 100 Players of 2019." Check in here and on NFL Network each day at 9 p.m. ET to see where your favorite players rank.

60
Larry Fitzgerald
WR
Cardinals
2018: 27

Fitz is one of five players to make the Top 100 every year since it began in 2011. But after three straight 100-catch, 1,000-yard seasons, the longtime Cardinal finally showed signs of regression in 2018. He still finished with 69 receptions for 734 yards, and that came with the quarterbacking trio of rookie Josh Rosen, Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray could help inject some juice into Fitzgerald late in his career. He hasn't played with a quarterback this talented since Carson Palmer, or maybe even Kurt Warner. Each of those two were in their mid-to-late 30s and well past their prime. Murray could be the best thing that happens to Fitz this late in his career.

59
Zack Martin
OG
Cowboys
2018: 71

Remember when many thought the Cowboys should've taken Johnny Manziel over Martin in 2014? That was fun. Since then, Martin has made five straight Pro Bowls and All-Pros (three first-teams, two second-teams). Manziel has been out of the league since 2016. The Cowboys' rushing offense has finished in the top-10 every year since drafting Martin. So, I think they made the right call. This is Martin's third straight Top 100 appearance -- and he's shown no signs that it will be his last.

58
A.J. Green
WR
Bengals
2018: 22

This is Green's lowest Top 100 ranking since 2012 when he came in at 77 after his rookie season. A toe injury limited Green to a career-low nine games, 46 catches and 694 receiving yards, so the drop is probably justified. That makes two of three years where he played 10 or fewer games. Green turned 31 this summer, has a new head coach for the first time in his career and his quarterback is likely playing for his job in 2019. This season could go either way for Green, but if he's healthy, you have to expect that he'll return to form as one of football's best pass catchers.

57
Danielle Hunter
DE
Vikings
2018: N/A

Hunter has come out of nowhere and become one of the best pass rushers in the league. Since 2016, Hunter has 190 pressures, which is tied for 11th among all edge rushers during that time, according to PFF. He's still just 24 years old, so his best football is likely still to come. Hunter's 14.5 sacks in 2018 was second in the NFC. If the Vikings can get back to the playoffs and Hunter performs on the biggest stage, he'll continue to climb up this list.

56
Joey Bosa
DE
Chargers
2018: 37

Like A.J. Green a few spots up, Bosa is a player who will likely rise in the next Top 100 if he can stay healthy in 2019. The Chargers finally returned to the postseason in 2018 despite the fact that Bosa didn't make his season debut until Week 11. He had 5.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits in seven games, but he didn't do it in the postseason. The Patriots' offensive line neutralized him, as he failed to record a tackle or quarterback hit in the divisional-round defeat. He should have another chance to prove himself this season if the Chargers are as good as advertised. Performing on the biggest stage next winter could be career-changing for the elder Bosa brother.

55
Xavien Howard
CB
Dolphins
2018: N/A

Simply put, this is one of the scariest defenders in the NFL. When he's playing your favorite team, you always have to be worried that he's going to make a play on the ball. After all, Howard led the league with seven interceptions last season -- and he did it in just 12 games. He doesn't just gamble and allow big plays, though. Among corners with 200-plus cover snaps, Howard had the third-lowest passer rating allowed (62.6). New Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has a history of coaching first-team All-Pro cornerbacks, including Stephon Gilmore and Darrelle Revis in New England. Howard could be next.

54
Calais Campbell
DE
Jaguars
2018: 14

Multiple defensive ends are mixed in the 50s. Campbell has had a late-career surge since joining the Jaguars in 2017. His first nine years with the Arizona Cardinals included two Pro Bowls but not one season with at least 10 sacks. In two years as a Jag, Campbell has compiled two Pro Bowl bids, a first-team All-Pro selection and two double-digit sack seasons. He drops 40 spots in the Top 100 this year after Jacksonville stumbled from AFC Championship Game appearance to 5-11 and out of the picture. The addition of Nick Foles could change their fortune, and an extended run could help Campbell work his way back up the list.

53
Mike Evans
WR
Buccaneers
2018: N/A

Evans has never been on the Top 100 in back-to-back years, but he's also never been off the Top 100 in back-to-back years. Despite the inconsistency in the Top 100, Evans has actually been a model of stability on the field throughout his five-year career. He's only missed three games in his career and he's accumulated over 1,000 receiving yards each year. Last season, he had eight touchdowns and a career-high 1,524 yards even as the Bucs flip-flopped between Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick. In 2019, adding head coach Bruce Arians could thrust Evans into the upper-echelon of wideouts, if he isn't there already. As a coordinator or head coach, Arians has helped Hines Ward, Reggie Wayne and Larry Fitzgerald thrive later in their careers. Evans should just be entering his prime, so this could be the start of something special.

52
Tyron Smith
OT
Cowboys
2018: 39

Sensing a theme here? We've got our second Cowboys offensive lineman in the 50s and our fifth Cowboy overall -- and we're not even halfway through yet. Not to mention that all five of those players are under 30, and Smith is the 'old man' at age 28. Smith has been in the Top 100 for six straight years now, matching his six straight Pro Bowl bids. This is his lowest ranking since 2014, and the drop is warranted. Smith has missed three games due to injury in each of the last three seasons after missing just one total in his first five years. He's still one of the better blind side protectors in the league, but wear and tear might be starting to catch up to him.

51
Deshaun Watson
QB
Texans
2018: 50

Watson set the league on fire as a rookie before tearing his ACL. He didn't match his absurd 9.3 touchdown percentage from those first seven games as a rookie, but 2018 was anything but a sophomore slump. He started all 16 games despite playing through broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung. The dude took a 12-hour bus ride from Houston to Jacksonville before their Week 7 game and led the Texans to a 20-7 win. Houston won the AFC South for the third time in four years, but got bounced in the Wild Card Round by division-rival Indianapolis. Another year of health after the ACL tear and Watson could arise as a perennial Pro Bowler.

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